Good Bones

My building between the 2009 double blizzards.


Before I moved to DC, I lived for seven years on the Cranbrook Road strip in Cockeysville. I remember an episode of that TV show where neighbors decorate a room in their neighbors’ house while they neighbors do the same to one of theirs? I can’t recall the title of it, but it was hosted by a woman named McLeod for a year which was awesome because I’m a huge Highlander fan (even if Connor and Duncan are MacLeods). Anyway, so one episode was actually filmed in Timonium, and one of the show’s regular artisans commented to the women he was working with, “I knew this was going to be trouble when I saw ‘Cockeysville’ on the road sign.”

Also fun: when I’d enter my address into online forms and it would come out ****eysville. Yeah, that’s hilarious. I guess the residents of Fuck, Australia are rightly and truly fraked.

In any case, I moved to that area after living for two years in Towson. I spent two years in a small studio apartment, then moved to a larger two bedroom apartment in Timonium, just past the end of Cranbrook Road. Both the studio and the two bedroom (which ran me something like $850 a month when I moved out) were managed by the same company.

One day – I don’t know I could remember even the year – I was getting ready to step into the shower when I heard noises from the living room. I stepped into the hall and there was a guy standing there. He said he was with the complex, and he needed to inspect my apartment. Um, excuse me, what the frick? He handed me a letter, glanced around, and told me to clean the place up because their loan company was doing annual inspections of the apartments and mine had been randomly selected.

My thought was: what person will actually walk into an apartment (after presumably knocking), hear a shower running, and not leave immediately?

Flash forward many years. I’ve been in DC for three years. The building I reside in is night and day different from that crummy mass built structure I lived in for five years. There’s a lobby with gold detail and ornate carvings and I think some marble. There’s a management staff that is very approachable and delivers dry cleaning and packages. Every day, the housekeeping staff is mopping and cleaning, and the longest I’ve ever had to wait for a maintenance request was two days: and that was for a new dishwasher.

A note was slid under my door over the weekend, I received another one yesterday evening. Tomorrow morning, the water to the building will be turned off at 6am and will be left off for almost twelve hours as the boiler system is entirely replaced. The note describes the replacement as a “once every ten year” project, and I have no reason to disbelieve them. In fact, the inconvenience to me will be largely non-existent – I will shower when I get home tonight from my part time job at The Cinecave, and the overwhelming desire to brush my teeth in the morning will make me leap out from under the covers and rush for the bathroom as I have no desire to use a water bottle (hooray tap water).

But the note got me thinking. I recall, I think during my tour of the apartment, a month before I moved in, asking how old the building was. I think the answer was that it was built in the 1920s, and sometimes I wonder how the building looked to those first residents. I mean, I’m sure it looked very similar, but were the apartments divided the same way there are now, or were they cut into smaller units after the war? Clearly the elevators are new-ish: were there always two? Was there just one, maybe with a grill door and an attendant?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I think I’m going to contact the District’s historical society and see if they have any information, or if they can give me pointers to finding these out.

1 thought on “Good Bones

  1. OMG! I am about 95 percent certain that’s my grandmother’s old building. Is it on the same side of the street as the zoo? She lived in a studio apartment on the second floor directly above the front entrance. I remember as a kid wondering why she didn’t ever sit out on her “balcony.” I also remember thinking that it would be really cool when I grew up to live in a nice old apartment like that, all by myself, in a place where you didn’t need a car. So there you are, living my childhood fantasy!

    Everything seemed kind of old and original there during the 60s and 70s. I don’t remember how many elevators there were. I’m pretty sure there was not an attendant. There might have been a grill, but maybe not.

    There is someone who blogs occasionally on DCblogs about old buildings in DC. From that I learned a little about the apartment that I lived in down the street until I was about two years old. The architect’s name was Wardman and he designed a lot of the original buildings in the Woodley Park area. Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the blog. Sometimes if you google an address historical stuff will come up.

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